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Obama Picks Bush Critics For Legal Team

From the Politico:

Bush’s legal foes now Obama’s legal team

By: Ben Smith
January 24, 2009

President Barack Obama is staffing his Justice Department with some of his predecessor’s fiercest critics, among them lawyers who were fired by President Bush or who quit jobs working for his administration.

Now, the opposition is in charge, and lawyers who spent years defining the limits of executive power will be helping wield it.

The change may be most dramatic at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — which defended some of Bush’s most controversial policies — where a small cadre of lawyers who had an outsized influence on legal criticism of Bush are taking the top three jobs.

Those three — Dawn Johnsen, Martin Lederman, and David Barron — and others made the case that Bush’s interrogation policy was justified by flawed legal reasoning. Their arguments precipitated one of Obama’s most dramatic early acts: flatly repudiating all government legal advice on interrogation issued between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009…

They step into positions ripe for conflict, and have staked out clear positions that could possibly restrain Obama’s ability to, among other things, conduct military operations against the wishes of Congress.

“They have alarmingly narrow views of executive power,” said a former Bush aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Others said the key would be how Obama’s lawyers handle concrete questions and decisions.

It’s important for OLC to remember that it’s not a professorial office: there are real lives at stake, there are real liberties at stake,” said Douglas Kmiec, who headed the office under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and who supported Obama and praised the Johnsen pick.

The OLC lawyers are only a few among the erstwhile opposition figures now entering the administration. Neal Katyal, who successfully argued a key Supreme Court case on the rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees, will be principal deputy solicitor general. David Kris, who was an internal and then external critic of warrantless wiretapping, will head the Obama Justice Department’s national security division. And David Iglesias, the former U.S. attorney for New Mexico whose firing drew bipartisan condemnation and helped bring down an attorney general, has been called up as a top military terror prosecutor

Johnsen, Lederman, and Barron have known one another since their time together in OLC in the 1990s, and as details of the office’s Bush-era legal opinions leaked out..

The three signed one statement, which Johnsen principally wrote, favorably quoting a comparison of Bush’s attorneys to mafia lawyers and laying out principles for restoring the Office of Legal Counsel’s independent tradition.

Barron and Lederman are the authors of a pair of long articles  in the Harvard Law Review examining President Bush’s claim that he can wage war — and the war on terror — largely free of congressional oversight or restraint. In the articles, they argue that the notion of overriding war powers of any sort is a modern invention, with few roots in precedent or the Constitution.

The Bush position, they wrote, is “a radical attempt to remake the constitutional law of war powers.”

Lederman and Barron argue for Congress’s right to deep involvement both in making and waging war…

Johnsen has also written that OLC lawyers should be “prepared to resign” if their opinions are ignored…

Johnsen has described the Bush Administration’s conduct as “illegal” and Lederman wrote that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other Bush aides appear to be guilty of “conspiracy to violate the Torture Act.”

This is more of that “new tone” of “post-partisan” “unity” that we were promised by the Messiah.

Meanwhile, our National Security will be held hostage by fools and America-hating knaves.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, January 24th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “Obama Picks Bush Critics For Legal Team”

  1. suscepit says:

    Oh, so these super-fab geniuses branded President Bush’s staff as “Mafia lawyers.” What was wrong with their usual “Nazi” proclamation, was it temporarily out of service for sharpening?

  2. Liberals Demise says:

    Any wonder why lawyers should not be lined up and shot?
    If you are going to act like nazis……you should be treated as such.
    “You what ze blindfold unt cigarette?”

  3. Odie44 says:

    So Bambi has overturned the Executive Orders for past Presidents concerning documents, named anti-Bush thug lawyers and is allowing Pelosi to champion “investigations into Bush”

    The Gulag has arrived.

  4. Anonymoose says:

    I think it just also shows that rather than do “what’s good for the country” that it’s just more of the seesaw of modern politics. Is he really doing this to make things better……or to just publicly undo as much as he can of Bush to appease his fans/party members? Maybe if these people spent more time looking at the big picture than getting back at each other we might get somewhere.

    Then again Obama might find himself suddenly needing to take an executive action and having his hands bound because there’s ta-da! these lawyers won’t let him. That would be ironic……

  5. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    Right now the Obama administration isn’t doing as much as we thought because they’re still trying to figure out the pecking order of where everyone belongs. But once that’s over look out. This latest revelation of news is just a foretaste of what’s to come.

    • JohnMG says:

      Pecking order?? Or pecker-head order? Ya can’t tell ’em apart without a scorecard, but they’re all pathetic.

  6. Confucius says:

    Let’s remember the names of these people.

  7. pdsand says:

    I will be waiting on the edge of my seat for one single instance over the next four years during which these mavericks offer an opinion which differs from that which Obama is offering.

  8. Confucius says:

    What I want to know is how many attorney generals Obama terminated, or better known as “illegally fired.”

    You know I love my Senate investigations.

  9. pdsand says:

    Heaven forbid one of these august scholars who believe in the limited power of the executive branch and the strict construction of the constitution should ever pick up a copy of any bill that Obama is promoting in congress, and compare it against article one, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and say, ‘Nope, the Congress isn’t legally allowed to do any of this. We’re going to have to ask you to kill this bill.’

    • proreason says:

      The Moron is a constitutional scholar, and he has already told us (in a rare digression for his puppet-master’s script) that the Constitution is flawed.

      But he likes the Constitution because paying lip-service to it gives him cover while he funnels the wealth our ancestors broke their backs to create to the new aristocracy of Soros, Kennedy, and Kerry.

      And for those of you who don’t believe that The Moron was selected by his handlers decades ago, have you ever contemplated just how perfect it is that his specialty is Constitutional law. Why, it’s almost miraculous. A bi-racial, clean and articulate constitutional law graduate of Harvard with two pretty little girls, a dedicated Chrisian who grew up with and understands our brother Muslims, and a genius autobiographer to boot! Why, it’s almost like his life was planned out just so he could be our President!!

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